Sam Bennett has become only the sixth Irishman to win a stage of the Tour de France following sprint finish to a blisteringly fast 10th day of racing.
His Deceuninck - Quick-Step team protected the Carrick-on-Suir man through a fast, technical 168.5km stage from Île d'Oléron to Île de Ré, featuring lots of roundabouts and crosswinds, and he pipped Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan to the line with Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe third.
The 29-year-old follows Shay Elliott, Seán Kelly, Stephen Roche, Martin Earley and Dan Martin in winning a stage of the world's most famous cycling race, and, like Elliott, has now claimed stages at all three Grand Tours after previous successes at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
Bennett scored second, third and fourth placed finishes during the first week of the tour, but regained the green jersey from Peter Sagan with this win.
Speaking afterwards, an emotional Bennett said: "I don't think it has hit me. I forgot to throw the bike at the line in the moment and I thought he might have got me.
"I thought I’d be in floods of tears but I’m in shock," he said, before breaking down in tears.
"I just want to thank everyone that has been involved, the whole team, Patrick for giving me this opportunity and just everybody it took to get to here. I want to thank my wife, everyone around me.
"You dream of it, you never think it’ll happen. It did and, I don’t know, it took for a while to hit me."
🎬 Relive the final kilometre of today's stage and 🇮🇪 Irishman @Sammmy_Be's sprint win!— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) September 8, 2020
🎬 Revivez le dernier kilomètre de l'étape d'aujourd'hui avec la victoire de 🇮🇪 l'irlandais @Sammmy_Be#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/9MmOy1n28n
Bennett is now 21 points ahead of Sagan in what is becoming a fascinating battle for the green jersey.
Dan Martin finished 130th, 5'25'' behind his compatriot while Nicolas Roche was 10'52'' back after a painful looking crash.
"My warmest congratulations to @Sammmy_Be on his success in the #TourdeFrance, winning the stage to Île de Ré.— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) September 8, 2020
Today's win means he joins a select group of Irish riders, and I wish him and the other Irish riders every success in the remainder of the Tour."
There were no major changes in the general classification, with Primoz Roglic retaining the overall lead with a gap of 21 seconds over defending champion Egan Bernal.
Martin is the highest ranked of the Irish trio at 64th in GC, 1h 11' 13'' behind Roglic.
"It's dangerous wherever you are!"— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) September 8, 2020
There's a crash in peloton and a handful of riders are down 💥
🇫🇷 #TDF2020 LIVE
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